Our most special public place is Seneca Park and its Eli M. Schulman
Playground. Located across the street from Eli’s the Place for Steak and 1/2
block east of the Magnifient Mile, Seneca Park was built around the turn of the
century when the now historic Engine Company 98 fire house was built.

In 1988, when my dad passed away, the City and Chicago Park District honored
him by renaming the small playground in the existing park for him. From 1988 to
1990, we worked our neighbors in the community, including Oprah, Northwestern
Memorial Hospital and the American Dental Association, to raise over $450,000 to
rebuild the park, create a new playground and puchase and Debra Butterfield
horse sculpture “Ben” for the Park. The designer of the Park was well known
landscape architect, Maria Smithburg, who was then with the Chicago Park

Over the years, the people of Engine Company 98 have been heroes in our
community. From fighting fires in high rises to taking critical care of our
neighbors, the Company has been very community minded. They have also pro-active
in helping us maintain Seneca Parka and keeping it secure. They also encourage
tourists to view the 102 year old firehouse and to get to know more about the

For all those reasons it was great to see Engine Company 98 welcome a special
guest, John Travolta, the lead in the new film, Ladder 49, to the firehouse. He
was in town to film Oprah with his co-stars Joquin Phoenix and Robert Patrick,
all of whom joined John to tour the firehouse, meet the company, and to enjoy a
Thanksgiving Dinner (John’s favorite) with turkey and all the trimmings and
Eli’s Pumpkin Cheesecake for desssert.

Eli’s Maureen Schulman, with John Travolta, Fire Commissioner Cortez Trotter
and Marc Schulman

Chicago’s Engine Company 98–next to the Eli M. Schulman Playground and
across the street from Eli’s the Place for Steak.

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